Friday, December 31, 2010

Americans Dance and Brazilians Lay

I noticed something while out at a New York City bar last night, American men really lack in hooking up efficiency.

Take this one guy from last night. He was first hovering around this one attractive lady like a helicopter. Hello good sir, no one is going to call you in for a landing. It does not work that way.

He finally settled into talking to her.  At times I couldn't tell if he was hitting on her, was her personal space holder, or interviewing her for the school newspaper.

That's when it hit me. He had spent about 2 hours, at that point, courting her.  It seemed as if he was trying to converse her pants off. I don't know about other peoples' pants, but mine do not have voice control.

Daniel was also intrigued by this man and his skills, or lack there of. As a Brazilian he would have done it differently.

Oh how the Carioca man does it differently.  A Carioca man would barely give his girlfriend this much attention at a bar, much less a mere potential hook up.  A Rio de Janeiro man takes 5 minutes. First they catch their eye. Once that's done, they move in like a tiger heading in for the kill. They saunter up to the woman. After about 1.5 minutes of easy conversation, the remaining 3.5 minutes are spent making out.

Yes, making out. Right there, standing up, in between all their friends.  They have both, at this point, already decided if they will be sleeping together.  It could be at the end of the night, or they could leave right then.  No ritual dance necessary.

The point being, in the time this man attempted to woo the woman with his personality, the Carioca would have made out with 3 women and slept with a 4th.

The Brazilian may not be efficient when it comes to many things, but they definitely have it down when it comes down to the mating dating game.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Recycled Blog post

I'm heading out to visit some of my Husband's family in New York. I will be AWOL until the New Year.  I just wanted to wish you all a Happy New Year!  In reflection of a favorite and since I am a lover of recycling. Here's an old favorite of mine:

The Brazilian Family Lunch

I was chatting on the phone with my Mother yesterday morning.  As I normally do, I was simultaneously talking to my husband. He was asking about this or that and after the lunch. I replied, no no, after lunch we have to come home so I can make the boys dinner and give them their bath.

My Mother was perplexed.  Why would you have to make the kids their dinner after a lunch?  And bath time?  What time is this lunch??

Seems crazy, I know.  But if you've been to a family lunch in Rio de Janeiro, you get it.

A family lunch starts at a reasonable time, around 12:30 or 1pm.   Here's the kicker. It only ends around 4 or 430pm,  and that is if you bow out early.  A true family lunch means that, if your kids follow an American/Canadian eating and sleeping routine, you'll be leaving after they've also eaten dinner and in time for bath. 

What is a Brazilian family lunch you ask?  That's a lunch that is on a Saturday or Sunday at least once a month, usually at a Grandmother's place.  There will be a huge feast starting about 1 hr after at least 80 % of the family is there.  Then there is dessert.  Following that is coffee. There must be at least a half hour of prep time in between each course and this prep will only start once everyone is finished with the proceeding course.

I know what you are thinking.  You'll come for lunch and head out before dessert.  I don't think so.

Should you leave before all courses, you are opening yourself up to be discussed by the rest of the family. Oh the disrespect! That is, of course, unless you have a good excuse. There are 3 good excuses. 1. Another family lunch that you ditched for this one but are trying to make it for coffee. You get bonus points for this excuse since you picked them for the actual meal.  2. A child's school school event or birthday party.  Don't worry, it doesn't have to be your child. Any child will do. 3. Death. Yours or someone else. Hidden option number 4. You just don't show up to begin with and don't answer your phone. Be prepared to suck up later and for possible telephone harassment before the next family lunch. 

One warning, Brazilian family lunches are not for the claustrophobic.  It's madness contained in a 12 x 8 ft dining room with 42,000 members of the family and 100,000 lbs of food. I may have exaggerated slightly.  In my defense, I'm a foreigner and that's what it feels like to me.

And finally, I love it!  I love family lunches.  Every relative from the 3rd degree cousin to the maid's sister's son is there.  You mix and mingle like musical chairs.  People just get up and move and sit down somewhere else.  If I didn't know better, I'd think the apartment was a snowglobe and we were shaken up about every 15 minutes.

Plus the kids can run around and be just that, kids.  Each person takes their turn with the little ones. They also try to feed them. My kids consume about 15,000 calories each family lunch.  It is madness personified and I highly recommend it.

It's not a rare thing to find.  Just try to get a parking spot in Flamengo/Laranjeiras on a Saturday around noon. It's not going to happen. The entire population of Rio de Janeiro are visiting the Grandmas and about half of them live in Flamengo/Laranjeiras.  There are some stragglers in Copacabana and some rich grannies over by the beaches of Ipanema, Leblon, and Barra. But Flamengo and Laranjeiras, those places are Granny central!

You will leave the family lunch happy and drained. You might as well have gone to a bar until the wee hours of the night.  You will feel the same way. You could potentially be slightly drunk from the beer and you will be highly over stimulated.  It's an amazing event which will leave you and your spouse with hours of conversation.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

How to Make Money after Christmas in the States

Visiting home is not cheap.  Add to that buyers remorse... Ok, I'm lying. I have no remorse over my purchases but I do wonder how we are going to pay for them.

While credit card companies are so kind, allegedly, I have to pay them back.  So I'm trying to come up with a plan of attack. Here's what I came up with.

What you can do to make money, in Brazil, after blowing all yours in the US:

1.  Sell your kid's new toys.  That $20 toy they got at the after Christmas sale could go for a sweet R$300.  Just tell the kids you lost your luggage.
2.  Blackmail your family with awkward videos/pictures you took during the holidays. Tell them for a small fee, the video or pictures will not be posted online.  Con to this plan, they definitely have equally degrading videos/photos of you.  Think first.
3.  Bring back a suitcase full of Victoria's Secret lotion and sell them in the plaza.  You'll earn money and remember your Portuguese with all the transactions and arguments with the other vendors over you using their corner.
4.  Sell your body.  The extra holiday weight makes the less curvy American style body a bit more bootylicious and the SUPER white skin makes you exotic. Ok, maybe not true but it's a theory.
5.  Rent your new adult toys out to your friends. Not the kinky ones, that wouldn't sanitary.
6.  Get a second job to pay crap off.  Then again, you live in Brazil. If you worked two jobs, when would you go to the beach? Drink chopp? BBQ? Priorities people.
7. Go on a game show!

Well, that's all I got.  Can you guys think of any better ideas?

What is Family

I feel the need to explain my last post, not because my readers misunderstood or that I wrote wrong.  It's because the people most important to me did.

My parents did an amazing thing in raising the four of us. They managed to raise 4 individuals who are themselves.  We all grew to be very different people.

In being different people in different families, we will bicker and argue. We will defend the parts of us that developed outside the nucleus that we were raised in.

Regardless, I have a rare group.  I would not be who I am or where I am without them.  I was able to jump into a marriage and take a chance at life because I had them to fall back on.  At no point in my life have I felt that I was taking a leap. Of course I was, but I have ALWAYS had someone, someones, to catch me.

As pointed out by a sister-in-law, it's a rare thing to be able to say that.

At any and every point in my life, I have had not one but 6 direct people to reach out to.  Luckily for me, in marriage, I gained 3 more.

I have the benefit of being able to miss my life in Rio. I do. Saying my life there is pretty damn good is the understatement of the year.

But every day, every day, I miss them.  I miss every single one of my family.  I think of them.  Something happens and one or the other pops into my head. It may be something one would enjoy.  Or it could be how much I would love to take my nieces to see something.  It could just be traveling down memory lane.

The thing is, I have the perfect excuse to miss these reunions. I live far away and spend a small fortune to come. We couldn't afford to come here this year... any year.  But we did.  We did because it is a priority.  I will take one good day and bad one. That's still a trip worth having.

It's true that you don't pick your family.  But I pick mine. I always have and I always will. That is one point in my marriage where we agree. Family is family and nothing can replace it. It is unconditional.

And I am lucky because mine is...

Well, I hope so anyway!

Monday, December 27, 2010

What? Where?

I feel guilty because I miss the dynamic of my Brazilian family.  I should be all butterflies and daisies because I'm here, but I'm not.

My family has always been one to bicker and pick at each other. Regardless, we enjoyed each others company... or that's how I perceived it at the time.

What has changed, I do not know. Maybe it's just my tolerance to negativity has decreased. Maybe I just no longer get why people have to control themselves or feel like family get-togethers are a thing that need tolerated.

I don't understand the lack of flexibility or adaptation. And I'm sure I have my label with them. I'm sure in some way or another, my family is seeing me as being a douche.  Maybe my new Christmas nickname is self-righteous Brazilian Wannabe.  God only knows.

But why is it that when we get home, we are automatically converted back to our old selves. My family always have and forever will see me as an obnoxious 13 yr old girl with braces.  And yes, I was the Queen of all Obnoxious 13 year olds, but I don't think that means I deserve to be treated as one for the rest of my life.

Maybe if one of the numerous offspring would ask how my life is, they would know that I have grown up slightly.  While I'd like to think the two offspring of my own would be a clue, we all know children do not automatically make the parents into adults, sadly enough.

I think we just need a really good surgeon that does not mind working under odd conditions.  We can sterilize the bathroom and get everyone lined up.  One by one he can pull all the sticks out of our asses.  Seriously! If we can't do it ourselves, we sure as hell should be able to call a professional to do it for us.

And you all? Have you ever had to call in this kind of surgeon to your family events?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

End of an Era

I've gotten to the point in my expat life that I can not be in one place without missing the ways and people of the other. My little cross to bear in a pretty damn good life.

This year was a little different. The joy of being home with my family wasn't quite enough to cover the loss  that occurred back home in Rio de Janeiro.

The Great Grandmother, who I wrote about here, lost her battle with life.  Maybe, it was more like life lost it's battle with her.  Regardless, she lived this life with flair and a wisdom of a woman experienced with many things none of us young folk could understand.  I hope that when I go, I will have managed half the life she did.

Anyway, we lost her last week and my poor husband didn't get to go to her funeral.  We skyped his parents on Christmas eve.  The celebrating in my parents house was loud but the lack of celebrating in theirs was louder.

I wish he could have been there, that all of could have come and been a support.  At the same time, I am glad my children had a Christmas of joy and that Mr. Rant's family didn't have to put a fake smile on for the kids.  Because, let's be honest, the first Christmas after is... well, it's just that.  The first Christmas after.

This goes 100 x more in this case, as the Great Grandmother was the Godfather of the family. She ruled Christmas like Queen Elizabeth does Prince Charles. Every year we celebrated the sacred Christmas Eve night at her place.

Not this Christmas, and I doubt think we will again. After years and years of that tradition, I'm guessing thing will now shift.  At the very least, we will all be together and we'll do what families do best, create new ones.

But one thing will never change:

We MISS you Vovo Nice! We will always miss you!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas and Family

We look forward to Christmas and getting the entire family together.  That goes double for us expats because it's rare that we get to have these family get-togethers with our own families.

Then the novelty wears off.

You see, we Americans, a chunk of us anyway, don't live near our family. We don't have weekly family lunches like the Brazilians. We aren't used to the in-your-face comfort that family members have with each other. You know, the one that allows us to say 'You look kind of fat in that sweater.'  

Brazilians have it down.  You become less and less sensitive to your family's idiosyncrasies when you are faced with them, at the very least, on a weekly basis.  Uncle's never-ending conversation topics, Aunt's annoyance at the invasion of personal space, or Grandpa's gas just doesn't bother you as much when you are around them constantly.

Now look at my family for instance.  My parents produced 4 offspring during their bedroom fun time.  Each one of us live in a different city.  We are close by American standards... I would dare to say that we are even close by international standards.

So you take us, our parents, our spouses, and the couple of babies we have produced and put us into one house.  There will be a bit of bickering. Someone is ALWAYS going to be too sensitive. My brothers are always going to say I'm over-reacting.  Annoying, really. I could be bit by a rabid squirrel while being beat by the UPS guy and they'd still give me shit if I complained.

And the thing is, I love it. Yet again, call me a sadomasochist but it just melts my butter to be able to bicker and laugh with my family.  I enjoy gossiping with the 10 adults (usually on a one on one basis and about another one of the group), rolling around with the 4 kids, and celebrating the joint need for a drink because of all the "festivities".

Call me crazy, but it doesn't seem like Christmas if someone isn't getting smacked in the back of the head or mocking one or all of the siblings.  What kind of Christmas doesn't have people debating meal choices, spilling coffee or wine, and general chaos of all kinds.

I think Christmas with the family is like a good Broadway play.  It requires laughing, crying, drama, an obstacle, spontaneous song, and a happy ending.  And we'll have met all the requirements this first day, that is, once we get the Karaoke set up.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Pee in the Shower and Save a Tree

I heard about this a while ago but never got around to blogging about it.

A Brazilian environmental group, SOS Mata Atlantica, is encouraging Brazilians to pee in the shower to save water. Hell, invite your husband in and you can kill two birds with one stone.  Save a liter of water and be a little kinky at the same time.

Apparently, "if every household avoids a flush a day, it can save up to 4,380 liters (1,157 gallons) of water annually." As written in this article by the Huffington Post.

Narrated by kids, the commercial circulating Brazil is calling for all people to pee pee in the shower. Men, women, children, Brazilians, non Brazilians, sports stars, etc etc.  It's in Portuguese but is still entertaining, whether you understand or not.  The moral of the story "Pee in the shower!  Save the Atlantic rainforest!"

If the environment isn't enough of a reason for you to relieve yourself where you clean yourself, check out this site for some entertaining points on showering and urination (and also where I found the wonderful intro photo!) Do You Pee in the Shower?

So that leaves me to ask, do you pee in the shower?  Would you, could you?  

Coffee Wishes and Caviar Dreams

I didn't love Brazilian coffee from the first sip. Hey, in my defense, it was a bit alarming when the full chest hair popped in right after. I was very Miami Vice cool.

But, not only did I get used to it, I started to like it.  Hell, I can even make a mean cup of it.  Oh yeah, Mother-in-law stamped and approved.

Now that I'm home, I'm left unsatisfied each morning. It's like my coffee has erectile disfunction and, while it meets some basic needs, lacks the tools for the grand finale.

Like any good woman, I'm left attempting to make this relationship work.  Because I love coffee. Because living in Brazil has already ruined my relationship with Starbucks, yet strangely that improved my relationship with my wallet.

And yes, I still drink it like an American.  Big cup with a little milk and sugar.  I am American so, the more the merrier. Yes that phrase also works with food and drink.  But when I do this with American coffee, it's like drinking stale water mixed with slightly soured milk. Sure, that'll wake a girl up, but not in a good way.

I know what you are thinking, why didn't you bring your own Brazilian coffee. I did. I swear I did!  But once I arrive, I am enthusiastically patted down in search of the ground Brazilian goodness.  I wouldn't put it past some of my family to shake out my clothes in hopes of finding some lost droppings.

So I am trying to make the best out of the situation.  My Father was a bit alarmed with the amount of coffee he saw me use. And I was being good knowing he was watching.  As I told him, it's about quality, not quantity.   If that means that I have to use half the bag of coffee he bought, that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make.

And while the coffee here may never make me spontaneously grow body hair, but it can be made so it doesn't make me want to cry.  That will be my goal for the day.  

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

House of Midgets?

I'm living like a queen this holiday season. Ok, it just feels like it.  While my parent's house is considered a good size in Maryland, it would be a mansion in Rio de Janeiro.

I find that part of Americans funny, the need for space.  That need bit me in the ass when I first arrived in Brazil. My Father-in-law picked my husband and I up at the airport.  I was told to dress nice for the flight, as we flew with buddy passes. That meant heels in my book.  3 inch heels to be exact.  I was exactly 3 times the size of my Father-in-law.

We got to the apartment and were greeted by my Mother-in-law and Brother-in-law.  It was official, my husband was from a family of midgets.  Ok, maybe I just really needed to take off the shoes.

But honestly, it felt like everything was smaller than it should be, including my husband's family. I felt HUGE. Then again, maybe it was just my American ego getting the best of me.

I was given the tour of the apartment and started out my adaptation then and there.  There was NO alone time.  There was no privacy or space for it.  I even came home one day to find my Brother-in-law and his friends listening to music and sitting on what was supposed to be my bed.  Mine.  Of course, it was his bed, in his room, that he was lending to me. But it was supposed to be my space.

My mind was blown.  How can people be together this often and enjoy it?  All the chatting, touching, kissing, and co-existing.  I can clearly remember feeling somewhat violated by all the togetherness. It was exhausting.  Can you believe that I came of as slightly cranky.

Now, I can't imagine it any other way.  I feel like all this space is a waste. You really don't need it.  And my kids are turning out even more Brazilian in that way.

My Father went in to relieve himself in the bathroom connected to his bedroom. My 4 year old charged in and asked why he closed the door.  Then, upon realizing that my Father didn't have a book to read on the toilet, a crime to my oldest, he ran out to get one.  Grandpa was a good sport about having his privacy intruded on and also enjoyed reading The Magic School Bus.

As awkward as some moments can be, I don't think I'd trade for the bigger place. First off, I'd hate to have to clean it. Secondly, I kind of like the extra closeness.  So what if our entire Brazilian family knows I'm somewhat gassy.  It's that kind of thing that brings people closer.  Not the gas.  The knowing of odd realities about each other.

But don't get me wrong, I do enjoy a good visit home and being able to hide away from everyone else, even if it's just for a few minutes.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas, from the other side.

I have to say, it can sometimes SUCK to be an expat during Christmas. The SU of the suck is double when you are an expat from a country with 2 to 4 seasons and you are living in Brazil.

You see, Brazil is like the inside of an easy bake oven during the Holiday Season.   Hell hath no fury like Brazilian summer.

I remember my first summer in Brazil. I was all excited to experience my husband's version of Christmas.  I was even a bit excited to be spending my first Christmas away from home. Oh, how grown up and worldly I had become.

Plus, it didn't even feel like Christmas. I was more golden than the turkey after all the beach time, probably just as crisp.  And I don't care how many lights you put on building gates and palm trees, it ain't Christmas to me.

We got to the Grandma's house and it was all hustle and bustle, green and red, food everywhere, and people drinking. Of course, we were all melting too. Stupidly cold beers were being passed out to help with the heat, and we were all crammed on the veranda.

It was awesome. Of course I missed my family but with all the color, flavors, and sass of it all, it was easy to be distracted.

Then it happened. They put on Christmas music in English. I heard the start of Silent Night and the tears started to flow.  My family isn't the circle around the fire and sing carols type of family but the music still struck a cord.  The thing was that, it was a part of my Christmas.  It reminded me of how weird it was for me to have swamp ass  at a Christmas party.  I should have been drinking red wine or egg nog, although I hate egg nog.  And what the hell was with the french toast!? Good stuff but really, as a Christmas appetizer?

Don't worry, it all ended well. I was shuffled to the phone to call my family and matar saudade (kill the missings, for lack of a better term).

Now we combine traditions when we are in Brazil.  We open family presents Christmas eve with the family and the kids open the presents from us on Christmas morning. Santa does stocking for my little half Americans in Brazil.  And we have Christmas day lunch as well as a Christmas eve dinner.

On rare occasions like this year, we get to come stateside for the holidays.  Times like these, we do it 110% with all the treats, all the drinks, all the presents, and damn good stockings.

How about you guys? How have you blended your holiday traditions?  What do you miss most about Christmas at your other home?

The Relationship Chameleon

My family and I enjoyed a long drive home from Virginia the other day.  When it finally hit the moment when the kids were sleeping and the adults were tired of talking, I started thinking.

Oh no...

Anyway, I don't know why but I started to think about how people adjust for their significant other.  This is especially true in those fun and education times of the late teens and early 20s.

It got me thinking about my history of relationships and how I changed.  I'll let you be the judge.

The Brazilian Playboy - He was a weightlifter and football player at my high school. I also started lifting weights, eating a diet with more protein, and even started drinking protein shakes. In my defense, he did buy the shakes for me for my birthday. So romantic.

The Mafioso - He was Mexican and classy, accustomed to a higher kind of living.  After a couple of years, my flip flops were replaced by heels, my hoodies by brand names, and my hair got dark and short.  Crazy how that happens.

The Corn Fed Boy - The backlash from the boyfriend above.  Tall, ex-Frat boy.  I started watching football and drinking bud on Sundays. Bud many other days of the week as well. Flip flops were reinstated.

And that basically brings me to Mr. Rant.  I would classify him as the Mr. Man.

Mr. Man - Flips flops get shit but I still wear them. My hair is however I want. And I only workout when I deem necessary.  Cause, none of that really matters.

The beauty about my relationship with him is that it brought me back to me.

As much as we don't like to admit it, we all "adjust" to our lovers. We become more similar to each other, try and do different things.  I bet if you stripped your old relationships down raw like I just did, to basic and obvious changes, you'd see it to.  Hell, just think of your friends and how they were/are with HIM or HER. 

I think the goal in any relationship, is to find someone that you don't have to 'adjust' to or even do it automatically. The ideal is to find someone who adores you for exactly who you are, and yet, gives you that space to grow.  That is a life partner.

Hell, Mr. Rant even adores the annoying things about me.  For example, I seem get a kick out of writing about him.  His sex life prior to marriage, his son's penis, his family, and even his love of breasts.  And he is a great sport about it.

How have you changed for someone else?  Did you ever become Vegan? Did you take up rollerblading?  Do you still have a subscription to Archaeological Digest (only 2 more months left!)?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Missing jeitinho

I am having a serious case of the missings.  What am I missing?  Jeitinho!  Jeitinho, if you do no know already, is a sassy Brazilian way of bending laws, rules, and boundaries.  While it's not always the best thing for a government, it's pretty awesome using it day to day.

You see, I'm in the US, the consumer capital of the world.  I would like to buy things. Normally, that is not a problem, unless you want something you need a prescription for.

I, myself, would like to stock up on contacts. I can save a pretty penny buying them here. I basically get 4 boxes for the price of 1 back in Brazil. Awesome! So, I talked to my Brazilian Optometrist and got him to write my Rx out exactly like Americans do. Everything was perfect.

That was, until, I spoke with 1800 Contacts. It appears that the contacts prescribed for my right eye are discontinued.  No, they can not switch it to another brand. No they do not want my money.

Helly! Jeitinho? Switch it. What's the big deal!  I even went into Walmart and asked there. They were going to just switch it but the computer wouldn't let them add my doctor. Again, Jeitinho! I don't know about them, but when I worked in sales, I made the sales happen.  Get creative. Put a local number.  Mess with the address a bit.

Of course my All American family reminds me they could get in trouble for doing that. Why?  Because I'm going to get high off my contacts? Oh no, wait, it was an excuse to charge me $200 for another check up, just to make sure they could switch to an equivalent.

Youuuu Whoooo, I'm the buyer here.  My Doctor isn't the one who should decide the brand, I should. I should be able to switch based on saving a dollar or getting a free sticker if I want.  It's like prescription and generic.

Oh well. 1800 Contacts, you can kiss your $100 goodbye.  I'm taking me, my crappy eyes, and my Brazilian Rx to a small local Optometrist and see if I can Americanize the jeitinho and get me some cheap contacts.

Friday, December 17, 2010

My Little Card Shark

My son has turned into a card shark. I don't know if I should be proud of him or embarrassed. It is nice that he has a potential source of income and is only 4 years old. 

Here's how it is. He loves himself a good game of Uno or War.  He will explain all the rules to you, down to how you can not use a Draw 4 if you have any of the color being played in your hand.  He is honest.  That is, unless you let him "shuffle"

He stacks the deck.  The little booger stacks the deck and looks at you, with his big green eyes, and exclaims "Look, I shuffled all by myself!" 

You really don't want to squash their spirit so you go with it.  That is, until, you realize that every time he "shuffles" he gets 3 wilds and a couple of draw 2s.  In War, it's aces and Kings.

So the card shark is no longer allowed to shuffle.

Just wait until we introduce Monopoly.  He's SO NOT going to be the banker!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Watch out Popular Girls!

I've decided I'm not taking this winter/travel bulge lying down, sideways, or upside any longer!  It has gotten completely out of control.

That being said, I know you expats are rooting for me to enjoy my time here, including indulging in everything we people abroad miss.  And you know what, if this were a subject in High School, I'd be the freaking' Valedictorian!  Not exaggerating.  I look as if I'm 4 months along with my 4th child.  And for your information, I am not.  My Mother insists that it's impossible to gain weight so quickly and I must be ovulating in a freakish manner or something.

Have I mentioned I love my Mother?

Well, sadly, no 4 ovaries or anything in this body.  It comes down to consuming about 10,000 calories, 8,000 of which being fat and sugar, each day.  Combine this with lowering my calorie expenditure from... let's just say a lot to just about nothing.  Only so much you can burn hiding out from the cold.

I decided I needed to balance things out a bit.  That's when I found my Dad's old jump rope.  I used to be on the jump rope team in High school.  Wait, did I just write that out loud?  Well, it's true. I was obviously that popular.

Anyway, I'm going to start jumping rope! Actually, I already did. My parents have an unfinished, yet still heated, basement that we have been using as our "outdoor" facility.  Two days ago I started to jump rope in the evenings.

I lasted 10 minutes the first day.

I was too sore the second day.

I lasted 15 minutes the third day.

I'm really out of shape!

But I figure, slow and steady win the race in the child's book section, why not in the fat burning one? Oh, and I forgot to mention the walking lunges.  Yeah baby, this girl is going to have a firm, flat American ass when I get back to Rio.   And we all know they go super well with muffin tops.

Watch out popular girls, I'll be back to 3rd string understudy shape before you know it!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Little Piece of Heaven

I had a little piece of heaven this evening.

I took over my parent's bathroom and filled up their soaking tub.  It's deep, long, and with a nice arched back for comfort.  I almost moved into it. Hell, it's almost half the size of my apartment in Rio.

Anyway,  I filled it with almost scolding hot water. You know, the kind of hot that you have to enter into in increments. A foot, the second foot, knees, half a thigh, and so on and so forth until you finally sink in up to your neck.  The only thing peeking out are you hands, to hold your book of course, and your head. Sorry, I've yet to master underwater reading. I'll be sure to let you know when I do.

And everything soaked away. Worries, life, tension, and time.  I swear, a hot bath, a good book, and quality bath salts are the best therapy.  Of course, this is only enjoyable in cold weather. The colder the better.  There is nothing more enjoyable then getting into a soaking tub after spending the entire day just slightly chilled under all your layers of clothes... well, that is except for getting into one with that special someone.  

Now I'm in my snowflake fleece jammies, to entice the husband of course, and smell of flowers from lands I may never travel.  I'm relaxed enough to fall asleep in front of the computer and am looking forward to curling up in a fluffy chair with a fluffier blanket next to the fire.

In Rio, this would be torture, like sitting in a jacuzzi in the depths of hell.

And that just makes it all the more special. That and I know I get to go back home to the heat eventually.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Brazilians a part of Obama's stimulus package?

Here's a crazy idea, let the Brazilians come and fix the US economy.  Here's how the plan goes.

The US government creates a lottery for middle class Brazilians. The prize is a free round trip ticket to a "surprise" city.  It has to be middle class Brazilians because upper class has money and poverty level don't.  This plan needs those with enough money.  Hang in there, I'll explain.

So you give them the free ticket to a predetermined city.  That city will be one that is suffering a bit with this economic crisis but is big enough to have some tourist points, a target, a Best Buy, Gap, and a decent sized shopping center with an array of shops to choose from.

The thing is, if you bring the Brazilian, they will shop.  The prices in the US in comparison with Brazil are stupidly low.  Add in that they won the ticket and they will go nuts! The ticket price plus what they would have spent anyway will go straight into the US market.

I figure 1000 Brazilians will inflate our economy like an freshly workout-ed Carioca Bottom.

Just look at my husband.  The t-shirts he purchased alone could clothe half of Rio de Janeiro.  But they were only $2 to $5!  Times that buy a 100 and that's where we get you. Watch out China, we're getting sneaky up here.

Is Marriage becoming the new obsolete?

I got these stats from Time Magazine:

Is marriage becoming obsolete?:

62% of unmarried parents living with their partner say YES.
46% of unmarried also say YES
45% High School education or less say YES
39% of ALL groups say YES
31% of married say YES
27% of college educated folk say YES

My personal favorite is that 44% of Americans under 30 say marriage is heading for extinction yet only 5% of those in that age group do not want to marry.

First and foremost, I think we can all say that marriage has changed.  Older women marry younger men.  Stay-at-Home Dads aren't that uncommon anymore.  There are 2 income families, no income families, and a woman who became a man and married a woman but saved her/his uterus and had babies.

Things have changed.

Now, I have never quite understood all the judgement around marriage. The sacredness of the union, in the sense that everyone is throwing around these days.

People get married in Vegas for 3 hours and then get it annulled, shout out to Ms. Spears.  Hell, Amy Winehouse was allowed to marry and I doubt she can remember anything from the past 5 years at all. People get divorced, people cheat, people lie, and people beat... on each other. I was going with the whole rhyme thing.

On the other hand, people yearn for it. People make drama about it. When is he going to ask me?!  When am I going to find someone?!

We put so much pressure on a concept. It's a concept people.  An idea of 2 people coming together to take on life as a team.  Yes, it's a beautiful concept. Doubly yes, no one wants to die alone.  Triple yes, sometimes after many year of marriage, you double think that whole dying alone thing.

In Brazil, if you move in with each other, you are referred to as married.  The line of thought is that you live together and basically are, just sans the paper.  Personally, I think it's because it's a bitch to rent and get your own place in Brazil. You have to buy a washer, an oven, and a fridge for goodness sake.  That's commitment.

What I really don't get is that with all the socially acceptable changes happening around marriage, why the big old Red Haring tradition argument?  We have blended families, unmarried couples raising children, Single Mothers, Divorce, 3rd marriages, Jewish/Hindu wedding ceremonies, and so on and so forth.  You name it, we've done it.  The great thing about traditions is that they can always be adapted and new ones can be made.

So my question is, why the drama about gay marriage? Hell, 39% of you (44% under 30) think it's on the out anyway. It's the tube sock of tradition these days.  It never really goes out of style but it kind of does at the same time.

So what gives?  We don't like pairs?  I mean, after the woman/man had a baby person got married, we're basically saying it comes down to genitals. That's genitalism or something?

Personally, I have nothing against genitals nor gay marriage. I think we straight people have screwed the sacred union over enough. Let's just try to add in another group and see if they can help turn it around.  Maybe we can bedazzle over the stains left on the so-called pious tradition.

And don't even comment on my blog that gays can basically be married. Didn't we LONG ago cover that separate but equal is NOT equal?  Do you not remember history class?  Shame shit, different stink.

So what are you thoughts?  Is marriage on the outs?  Should we open our hypocritically restricted laws? Let's start a dialog

Monday, December 13, 2010

Brazil, as seen by 60 Minutes

Jim, my source for news, recipes, culture, and drink ideas posted a great piece done on Brazil by 60 minutes.

I watched it with my husband who was a bit confused. "Isn't this stuff obvious. You guys (Americans) don't know this?"

I sometimes see him as an innocent. He's one of the few who refuses to believe that most Americans know nothing about the rest of the world. Thankfully, he has not tested me on World Geography. That will be a sad day.

Anyway, check out the video. I'm going to post the youtube version for those of you who, like me, feel the need to fast forward, pause, and rewind. I put the ADD in vADDeo watching.

Got to love Lula and his smack on European perfectionism or whatnot. And yes, you can invite people over, they accept, and then they don't show up. It happens and it's socially ok. Again, I love me some Sass and Pizzazz. I guess I picked the right place to settle down.

Snow or Bidet?

I've been in the states for a whole 5 days now and I'm already missing a couple of things about Brazil.

For example, I miss the fruit. It's winter and this morning, for the first time this season, there was a thin layer of snow.  I forgot that fruits don't really like to grow in this weather.  Of course we can get staple fruits. This is America people. But no, we will not eat American bananas. I am a Banana snob after Brazil and the American banana is like the American fake breast. It's beautiful to look at, but is as hard as a rock and tastes like cardboard. Not that I know or anything.

I also miss the bidet and/or butt hose.  Call me French, call me Brazilian, call me messy, but the bidet is the Cat's meow.   My Mother is a very good sport and got us the flushable wipies to help fill the void.  It's so not the same as a hose spraying right up your bum.  And I am really unaccustomed to my grownup parts smelling like baby powder.  It's a little creepy.

And then there's the doorman. No doorman here.  Well, it would be a bit strange to have a doorman sitting on my parent's front porch.  Strange or kind of cool.  Anyway, where is the random conversation. I have no one to discuss the weather with as I wait for the elevator.  Of course I don't have an elevator either but that is beside the point. 

Last and totally least, I miss the heat. Well, not the heat really but the convenience of it.  Heat means not having to bundle up.  You can kiss the 4 layers of clothing goodbye! 

There are some other benefits of hot as well. For starters, it's super easy to gorge on food here. Ever eat a salad in 4 degree (30 F) weather? No, that would be insane.  And going outside. My kids are troopers but how long can you really last dressed up as the Pillsbury dough boy.  That leaves about 10 hours a day stuck inside somewhere. Thank goodness for inexpensive toys, art supplies, and unfinished basements for running around in

But one thing makes all this worthwhile.  And you know what that one thing is, BACON! Oh yes people, I have real bacon in my hands, in my mouth, and all over my clothing.  The strips are almost 2 inches wide, the fat to "meat" ratio is balanced, and I can cook it in a broiler.  Mmmmmmmmm. 

I bet you guys thought I was going to say family.  Don't you know me by now?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Boob Whisperer

Hello, I am the Boob Whisperer.

I am the Pied Piper of the breast.

You see, I go places and breasts come to me.  I don't seek them out, and I most certainly don't holler their name.  They just come to me, like moths to a flame. And they are always naked. It really makes for a different kind of moment

Let me give you an example.  Last night, I was coming home from a candlelit plantation tour in the middle of nowhere, of the middle of nowhere Maryland. Oh yes, costumes, confederates, and all.  We were really out there, both figuratively and literally. It was an interesting and fun experience.

Anyway, to get home, we had to drive down this dark country road. It was a foggy night and no one was out.  I look out my window for a brief moment and there is a woman standing in her bedroom window, topless, for all the world to see. One minute I was seeing trees, the next an eyeful of boob.  In her defense, I bet only her second and third cousins go down that country road.

My husband, poor man, cried his typical, it's so unfair cry. Why was I the only one who saw them?  What magic do I possess?  You see, he is a lover of breasts, believing a bad pair does not exist. Bless his soul.  And they are all being wasted on his straight wife's eyes. I swear, he would be a much happier man if I were a little bi and could share the same pleasure in them.

At least I get pleasure in laughing at his reaction after each boob exposure.  As a Boob Whisperer, these stories pop up when you least expect it.  Maybe it's a friend of a friend who enthusiastically shows me her  fake breasts, and insists I touch them. Awkward! Of course, I do.  It would be 21st century rude not to.

It could be a wardrobe malfunction, a VERY enthusiastic Brazilian hook up/boob slip, or a simple accidental boob grab of a neighbor. I really don't know why it happens to me but it does. It's like the psychics who have spirits talk to them, except mine are breasts and they just stare at me.

Well, it could be worse.  I could be getting an eyeful of plumbers butt.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Food is where MY heart is

I'm in the US to visit my family. It's all about bonding, cuddling, chatting, and the overall spending of time together.

My second goal is to eat.  Thankfully, this goes wonderfully with the holiday season and bonding with the fam.  I have officially been at my parents house for about 36 hours. Since I am a go getter and overachiever, I can already cross some items off my list.

They are the following:
Nutter Butters
Triscuits - original
Triscuits - Sun dried tomatoes (yummy!)
Cheddar and feta
Some more cheddar and feta
Bagel with cream cheese
Bagel with feta and cream cheese
Pop Tarts
Chef Boyardi (sp?) beef ravioli
Vanilla Wafers
String cheese
Sandwich with thinly sliced roast beef and provolone
Reeses Peanut Butter ice cream
Dill pickles

My goal is to move out of snacks and into real food by the beginning of next week. When I almost ate half my Mother's index finger... in my defense, her fingers do look strangely like Jimmy Dean sausages... I was informed that I am not starving and the food will be there tomorrow.

Say What?!  Tomorrow?  I'm on a strict gastronomic schedule here people. This food is not going to eat itself.

For you expats out there, what should I eat in your honor?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Eating on a Jet Plane

I got to fly the infamous American Domestic flight yesterday. It's been a few years now and I forgot that things had changed.

So I revert a smidgen upon arrival in the US. Call it the giddy American girl who forgets she exists until she crosses the "Welcome to Houston, Texas" sign.  I remember customer service and that I am always right. It just makes me so pleased my panties tie up in a bundle.

We get on our second flight and I'm reminded by the flight attendant that there is no snack on board. I am more than welcome to buy one. That pisses me off. No snack?! No nuts?!  No crackers?!  Really, you can't afford to give a girl a cracker?  I then see everyone else pulling out subway and packed sandwiches. They were prepared.

See, right there. That was the American girl who snuck in and got a bit cranky over a cracker.  Actually, it was more about what she is entitled to seeing how much she spent for that flight.

Oh there she goes again.

Anyway, that's when it hits me, it's a 2.5 hr flight.  2.5 hours people.  You don't need to eat.  I seriously doubt every person on that plane had some sort of glucose disorder or was on a body builder's diet of 6 small evenly distributed meals.

The problem is, we Americans feel the need to eat when we sit.  It's very much a, oh I'm sitting so to compensate I should put something in my mouth. Maybe that's why there so much alcohol consumption and sex on American campuses.

And I fall for it too. Whatever will I do with myself and my 2 kids on a 2.5 hour flight without a fridge, pantry full of food, and/or a waiter.

Regardless, we survived. Yes, I bought the damn crackers. I have kids people and I neglected to pack them lunch. Bad Mommy.

Let's just hope I can remember a little of the Brazilian and keep my mouth closed, that is unless there's an actual meal in front of me, a cold beer, a kid not wearing socks, or  a hot guy I need to grunt at.

Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

What's Your School Uniform?

 School/daycare in Rio de Janeiro took some getting used to.   Not the system or teachers but the bathing. 

I really didn't know how to handle it when I found out that the daycare my 1 year old was in was giving him a bath every day. I was like, say what?! 

It went something like this:

Rants "Why do you need to bath him?"
School "It's hot and they are sweaty."
Rants "So, I'll bath him when he gets home. It's weird"
School "Why is it weird?"
Rants "How do I know someone isn't doing something they shouldn't"
School "What are you talking about"
Rants "I'm talking about with my child! In a bath!"
School "What's wrong with you, you sick bastard?!"

The weirdest part of the whole conversation was that it all happened inside my head.  I never actually confronted the school. They bathed each and every child after lunch and before nap.  Everyone under the sun, including the parking guy if anyone asked, considered it a given. 

Crazy American Mom not bathing her child 3 times a day, especially before nap and bedtime... and after the park, after eating a messy meal, and we can't forget before seeing Grandma.

Now this boy is older and in a proper school. Guess what, they run around in their underwear when it starts getting hot here. That or their speedo which is basically the same thing. The littler girls also run around in underwear and the bigger ones in bikinis. This goes up through 1st and 2nd grade.  Maybe a little higher.

And you know what, I think it rocks. It is hotter than hell. Why shouldn't my kid be able to play outside in as little as possible, all bits covered of course. My youngest, in the infant 1 class, does get a bath on particularly messy or sweaty days.  They also let the kids up to 4 years old spend 30 min in the "aquatic park" aka 2 blow up pools and a hose. 

It took some getting used, I must say.  Initially, the idea of my kid running around his school in his underwear or in just his shorts (no shirt) seemed wrong.  Why are you taking off his clothes!

But that's the thing, they aren't taking off their clothes to take off their clothes.  They are letting the kids be more comfortable.  That and Brazilians have a HUGE obsession with bathing, especially in the summer. Any good school would help the younger ones stay clean and feel more comfortable.  The older kids can fend for themselves.

Plus kids, especially small ones, are treated like Deities. I really wouldn't be that surprised if I found my youngest's class of 1 year olds sitting on grape leaves being spoon fed jello.  And of course there would be someone fanning them.  Duh.

You melt here. It literally gets uncomfortable to just be.  It would be a crime of Brazilian nature to let a child feel that way. And heaven forbid one stays dirty.

Money, Stuff, and everything in between.

Why is it that money from my native land gets me all nostalgic.  Something about holding the green. Holding it, even the very few dollars (all 5s and 1s) that I have at this point living abroad, make me register that I'm going home.

So, as opposed to doing a corny little post on what I'm looking forward to, because I've already done that and I reached my quota for corny with last night's post, I'm doing something different.

There are things I no longer pack when I go home. I have a definite to US or to Brazil packing style.  It's efficient, it's crazy, it holds me off for the time I'm away from either place.

Since I'm going to the US and I'm being reminded of those neurosis, here is what I do and do not bring.

1. Skin care products. I buy them there, in bulk when possible, and bring them back.  That goes for face, body, and some hair. Not that hair. I live in Brazil, there isn't enough of that hair left!

2. Tennis shoes. Only the essentials because I prefer buying my tennis shoes, converse, boots, etc there. I do sandals, flip flops, and heels in Brazil.

3. I bring all my jewelry. I love earrings and always buy them in Brazil. Cool, big, and cheap.  Makes me sound like a hooker but I make them classy.

4. Books. If I'm mid-book, I leave it behind. I fly with kids, so no way I'm going to get to read on the flight. I'd much rather read new ones, bring back new ones, and pick up where I left off upon arrival home.

5. If beach is possible, I always bring my Brazilian bikini. I especially like to bring my littler ones. Shock factor. Nothing freak outs an Americans more than one of our own in a tiny ass Rio de Janeiro bikini on a US beach.  I've gone to Ipanema, I have no more shame.

6. Coffee and lots of it. My family is bored of most Brazilian things. That's a sign you've been somewhere a long time, when things you bring home stop being exotic. 'Oh more Pau Brazil beaded necklaces.  Great! One more and I can make a curtain.'  Coffee though, that is a staple asked for by every member of the clan.

7. Cigars. Brazilian ones. I swear.

Man, I'm getting all listy these days. I do believe packing and organizing is to blame. Procrastinators like myself need lists to make sure they only forget half of the stuff they are supposed to bring.

Anything I'm forgetting people?  Only 5 hrs to go!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Who are You?

Inspired by US weekly and The Little Hen House, I decided to write a little getting to know me post.

25 Things You Don't Know About Me:

1. I hate getting pedicures but I do it anyway because I have horribly ugly feet.
2. I could eat Pizza morning, noon, and night but my body does not let me.
3. I love Spinach and avocado. Even better together.(Don't forget the salt!)
4. I'm a hopeless romantic but am easy to impress.  A combo my husband adores.
5. I love red wine.
6. Red wine pairs very well with cigarettes. That is a battle I will forever fight.
7. I've always wanted to be a dancer but seriously lack any sort of rhythm.
8. I have a lot of guilty pleasure music on my ipod.
9. I've always wanted to be a Mother.
10. Getting a comment on my blog makes me very happy. Even if it's a negative one.
11. I'm really looking forward to the golden years. My 60s are going to rock!
12. I wish I had a pet turtle.
13. I'm addicted to gossip magazines, and now after Brazil, any magazine at all.
14. I'm an avid book reader, when my children allow me to be.
15. Learning Portuguese was/is one of the hardest things I've ever done/am doing.
16. Moving to Brazil was the best decision I've ever made in terms of my personal life.
17. On the other hand, if I think about it too much, it kills me to raise my boys away from my family.
18. I make some mean cookies!
19. I crave alone time. 
20. Working out is my greatest stress reliever.
21. Sex comes in at a close second.
22. I want to live in Europe one day.
23. My husband and I researched car tripping to Rio de Janeiro from San Diego. I plan to do it one day.
24. I love me some good bad 80s movies
25.I enjoy doing laundry. Somehow I feel accomplished each and every time.

What don't I know about you?

Creepy Carioca Men

 A little message to creepy Carioca men, you are not as smooth as you think you are.

As much as anyone would imagine saying a creepy sounding 'Oi' and then licking your lips would attract the opposite sex, it doesn't.  Shockingly, it does not help if you translate Oi, you intellectual man you, into Hi.

Logically, because you seem oh so logical, if you say "You are so beautiful," I'm just going to jump into your arms while simultaneously ripping off my clothing. Oh yes, everything you've heard about us American women is true.

And the biggest winner would have to the sounds. Whistles, grunts, mmmm hmmmms, and all other non-verbal conversation sends me over the roof. As if Rio de Janeiro wasn't hot enough already.

Don't get me wrong, I think it's awesome that you leave your house feeling like a non-Metro Rodrigo Santoro.  Confidence is something everyone should have.  I just suggest you stop for a second and look around your house.  Any Gringa women putting their clothes back on there? Laying naked in your bed?  Have you received any phone calls in English or broken Portuguese lately?

My guess is going to be no for all of the above. So maybe, just maybe, your methods are not quite hitting their target.  Don't worry, we all know you have mad skills, you really don't need to prove it to anyone. Just saying we ladies are weird and don't get obvious moves.

Personally, I love it when a man plays hard to get.  Just turns me on.  Maybe you should try ignoring us!  Maybe we don't even exist.  Try it out for a while and see how it fits.  Hell, couldn't get any worse...

But it could get a whole lot better for us!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Warning: Mommy Post

My oldest went to his first sleep over.  He's sleeping like a baby... at someone else's house.

All went successful, per any Mother's hope.  He was a true blue ham, as his bloodline dictates.  And you know what, I'm very pleased.

I'm also a tad, irrationally, unnerved that he didn't ask for Mommy. I know that it's a good thing. He's well adjusted and is comfortable. Obviously, the choice of where the first sleep over takes place is a big key.  He's in very good hands. 

And so it starts.  This little person you carried with you, feeling every move and hiccup.  The one who's cough kept you, not them, up all night out of unfounded concern.  He's growing up to be social, comfortable, and happy to explore different things.  Essentially, he's growing up.

You joke as a Mom about how it'll be when they are independent, about how they will eventually forget you exist except for when you are out of food.   You talk about how one day you'll be able to sleep in and go out when you want. 

But really, you watch every move.  You watch every single move and cringe when you think it may hurt. Let me rephrase that, when you think there is a slight possibility that they could possibly get hurt.  That goes with mind, body, or spirit.  And the spirit is a doozy. Thankfully, they don't know how fragile it is. 

So I cringed walking him to his sleep over. I fought my desire to say 'You can call Mommy anytime to pick you up!'  Why plant the negative. Just because I hated sleep overs until I was like 21 doesn't mean he'll have an issue with it. 

And it's a very accomplishing feeling to see your kid adapt to a new situation with ease.  At the same time, you feel a little sand slip from your fingers.

Thank goodness I'm not the type to try to hold onto it.  Sand should be held in an easy hand, being allowed to go where the wind takes it.  I fight the urge to hold onto it daily.  But I figure, isn't the goal of picking up sand in the first place, to see the beauty in how it slides out from your fingers?

I Hate Packing!

I hate packing. I seriously, utterly despise the act of putting things into suitcases.  And it has only gotten worse now that I belong to a family of 4.

There's the stuff you have to bring. Like little Jimmy is really going to cry if we forget Bear.  Need bear. Oh and Bobby has that issue with allergies so we need to bring the nebulizer.  We can't forget pretty shoes for everyone, just in case we actually go somewhere nice. 

Don't even get me started on carry-ons. It's like packing for a wilderness retreat but not really knowing if you are headed to the mountains or the beach.  Are they going to feel like coloring? Will they actually watch the inflight video or should we bring our own? Playdoh or Playno? And snacks.  They will get hungry. Must have snacks. Diapers, extra clothes for them, and extra clothes for me. Trust me, the moment you do not bring extra clothes is the moment your child starts to have motion sickness. No one, not the person sitting to your left, not you, nor your child wants to sit next to someone that smells like the inside of a stomach.

Oh and medicine.  The magic medicine. I always have space for you baby.

When it comes down to it, you can always buy what you forget. At least in the States anyway. I know this but I'm not made of money, no matter how much I attempt to meditate on it.  I never should have read The Secret. Damn you Oprah! **

Anyway, I have one bag down and good golly I have no idea how many more to go.  Let's just pretend and say I like to pack light, or pack lazy.  Take it as you will. 

**I took artistic license there. I have never read that book and my pride wouldn't let me let you think I have.

A Tale of Acceptance...?

I read an interesting article in the November 15th issue of People. It's called 'A Tale of Acceptance'.

To sum it up, it's about a boy who likes to dress up like a princess. Oh yes, the bigger the tutu the happier the boy.  And his parents ROCK.  After some discussion, they decided to let the boy do what he wants.  Not to push him.  The Mom even wrote a book called My Princess Boy in attempts to quell the backlash of him expressing himself.  It's getting around the school system, thank goodness.

You see, I'm a big believer in Sass. I think if more people had it, the world would be a better place. Sass is something that makes you be who you are with force. You say things, even if it's a no go. You dance even if you are the only one that thinks your singing is danceable (happens to me a lot).  And you wear a freakin' big ass, glittery tutu if it makes you feel good.

I'd like to think kids are not cruel. I know we all say they are but, ideally, they don't come that way. They are like rottweilers. They look a little scary and have the tendency to be little bitches.  But they only really turn if you raise/train them that way. A rottie raised in a good home is as sweet as a golden, maybe a tad bit more protective... normally.

Not shockingly, there has been quite a bit of debate about this book and the parents' position on the subject. From Online radio blogger Lashaun Turner, the 46-year-old mother of three grown children (including two boys) in Riverside, Calif., was taken aback by Kilodavis tracing Dyson's fashion sense to age 2. "I mean it's just crazy. Your 2-year-old is picking out pink colors and wanting to wear pink dresses and so therefore you start buying him dresses? I mean a 2-year-old has not a clue as to whether they're boy, girl, fruit, vegetable or a rock."

So what would you do?  In the time of the ultra-sensitive parenting movement, do you smash his dreams of pink and ribbons to smithereens?  Or is it not smashing at all, only guidance towards social norm?

Personally, I cut my oldest off from nail polish at 3 years old. Dude, we live in Brazil. It was attracting attention at the park that was upsetting and mean from parents and kids alike. Amazing how parents are so quick to judge.  There are plenty of kids at the park with whom I'd like to loudly say, 'Wow, that kids is a douche and has small man's complex at 6!' but I hold my tongue. I feel that is the thin line that separates kids and adults.

And you know what, I was made fun of A LOT in school. I was even in our middle school slam book.  I was voted flattest girl in school.  I'd like to thank my genes. Without them, I never could have been so flat chested.  The vests I insisted on wearing really didn't help the situation.  I was so before my time. 

My mother never tried to help me be more accepted.  I like her thank her for that regularly. She was very, you are who you are and if they are your friends, they will accept you.

That's awesome. It really is. Sadly, in the 7th great, I apparently had no friends. 

At the same time, look at yourself.  We all have had our moments and we all have our things. Some of you are really into feet, you know, in a kind of scary way.  Some of you like to stand right next to the only other person in the elevator.  Many of you use food items in a very non-edible way.  We're weird people. Every single one of us. Just think about it.

And I know we try to "protect" our kids but maybe, sometimes, we raise them when they just need to be left to their own devices.

In an ideal world, home should be a shelter away from the bullshit.  Check your roof, does it have bullshit leaks? 

At the same time, the world is a tough place.  So what would you do?  Would you guide your son towards overalls and boots?  Would you limit sparkles to the house?  Would you bedazzle his basketball shorts if that's what made him happy?  What are your thoughts on the discussion?

And a secondary question: What makes you weird? Oh come on, I know you have something!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Rio de Janeiro Under Water

And now the rains have come.  It's raining it's pouring, the old man is snoring as Largo do Machado, Pinheiro Machado, and Rua das Laranjeiras flood. Damn old man, get up and watch the rain.

Rio has been Baby Jesus-ed

My Zone is covered in baby Jesus-es.  At first I thought wow, Rio de Janeiro has a lot of nativity sets! Good for them for being so festive.  But really, I mean really, do they need to put them all out? 

I don't quite know what's going on and neither do my Carioca contacts... aka my husband because I'm too lazy to ask anyone else or read today.  Then again, I have you cyber world friends, don't I?

So I hear it's some sort of mission. The mission to offend someone. Oh wait, Brazilians aren't petty like that and don't get pissed off over someone else believing in something. Now there is a concept to consider during this holiday season.

Anyway, there are Nativity scenes all over Zona Sul, quite possibly the city. I wouldn't know because I've only been hanging in my zone lately. 

They come in all shapes in sizes. We're talking metal, statues, colored, modern, "modern", and so on and so forth. 

Does anyone know how or why this has come about?  Is it a competition? Is it a faith thing?  Is it like the painted cow statue phenomenon? 

Who's got the story?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Can I have my Meds, Pretty Please!

 I really need to start reading Brazilian papers.  At the very least, I need to listen to the radio.

I went to the pharmacy to buy some just in case antibiotics for my youngest's penis. Long story short, here's the blog post: To circumcise or not to circumcise.

The Pediatric Urologist gave me the name of an antibiotic and antibiotic cream to bring with us to the states, just in case the little penis once again blows up like a Puffer Fish.

Per normal, I went in with my list, the antibiotics and other items.  The pharmacist was collecting like a good little man when he mentioned he needed the px for the antibiotics. I laughed. Seriously, a good belly laugh. Right. I know you do but I don't have one so please, can you just get it for me anyway.


What? Now I was just confused. It was cute at first but it was getting annoying. Well, turns out we are enforcing yet another law, prescriptions. Someone forgot to send me the memo.  I actually had to go to my kids' doctor and pick one up to go and get the "just in case" medicine. The guy wouldn't even sell me the cream. I get that it's all about controlling antibiotics but seriously, the cream?  It's R$40 for a tube the size of travel toothpaste. And it's for skin infections. I seriously doubt anyone is getting off on buying this stuff and lubing up their whole body.

Then again, people are crazy.

I'm starting to get nervous. Next thing you know, we'll be getting tickets for j walking. Popcorn and churro vendors with have to have... gasp... permits!  And I will leave this country the day they outlaw drinking on the streets. That is where I draw the line. That and public urination. No no, line drawn after public urination and before drinking on the street. 

I'm all about the development of Brazil.  You go you rock stars!  But I do have an issue with it turning into the US. I would like that it not do that please.

But really, truly, madly and deeply, let's keep some perspective.  Fresh corn on the cob sold from a vendor on the street = good! Random guy selling soda and water out of a Styrofoam box, also good. Creepy old dude selling snacks at the park is super good. Hey, I have to carry around enough crap, you also want me to bring snacks? 

So let's not get too out of hand with this whole "control" thing. It's an evil drug that can take a country over.  And if you start getting petty with legislation, I'm going to get petty too.  You know, like stop focusing on j walking and maybe make it illegal for children under 17 to be out of school. Mandatory education for all kids, and that would require you to build enough schools and have enough teachers. Who's getting annoying now?

Friday, December 3, 2010

More Penises? Seriously, Grow up...

Because I'm apparently obsessed with penis size... who knew?  Here's a little map within the US. I'm very proud of San Diego! Way to represent!

My previous Penis Post: Yes I'm Writing About Penises, was about Penis size on an international level.  But since I'm an American, I have to do a shout out to the penises of my native land. You can't forget where you come from, and half of me came from an American penis.  

I Got me Some Pickle Fever

All of us foreigners have our thing. It's that thing that we can't live without, even years after moving to another country.

I love one friend's obsession.  I can't help it, it's hilarious. She misses pickles.  Big, crisp, salty dill pickles.  Fair enough. When I was pregnant with my first, I almost raided McDonalds to get me some. It seemed cheaper than ordering 20 hamburgers just for one little sliver of green goodness. You guessed right, I was so desperate I actually considered McDonald's pickles good.

And yes, you can find them here... but they aren't real dill pickles. It's like soy.  You can shape it into a turkey but it's still soy.  That's what the pickles are here.  No, not soy. They are soggy cucumbers  masquerading as pickles in a pickle jar.  I'm almost personally offended every time I see them.

And you know what, we get over it.  Pickles, real Mexican food, and Lays potato chips are some of the things we just don't have in Rio de Janeiro.

Well, my friend has had enough.  She's been here far too long and she's done with the pickle-less life.  She is actually making her own pickles.

Who does that other than Great Aunts and 50s housewives?

This friend, that's who. She's got dill fever and it's not settling down until she hits perfection.  I'll tell you this much, they are pretty damn good. Need a little more salt but still, I'm impressed and it's not just with the pickles.  That is some serious initiative on her part.

It is almost enough to inspire me to become Mexican and just open that restaurant already.

What's your thing?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

City Girl goes Country, kind of

I had my first ever visit to a hotel fazenda, which is a hotel on a farm. It's pretty popular down here.  I mean, I wouldn't say it's the new black or anything, but maybe the knew brown. 

I know what you are thinking, why in the hell would you vacation on a farm?!  I was curious about this as well.  I believe it to be a Club Med farm experience. A little more rustic, very little rules, and drinks for Mom and Dad.  Fun for the whole family.

It is quite an experience.  We're talking grass as far as the eye can see.  That was the biggest excitement for my youngest. You know they've been living in a big city for too long when they get stoked on grass, and not the kind you smoke. 

There was a whole adaptation process. First, curiosity.  What is that and can I touch it? Second, acceptance. I can touch it! Third, love. Not only can I touch it, I can roll in it, eat it, and I'll never put my shoes on again. 

I really do recommend this for family and friends alike.  It's great to get out of the hot sweaty city to the breezy warm country. A nice dip in the pool and the warm scent of cow manure will take the edge off of any city girl.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Kids, Not for the faint-hearted

In the word of "Eat, Pray, Love*", children are like a tattoo on your face. You really have to be committed.

In my group of friends, I've always had a couple who don't want kids and I don't blame them. I don't like other people's kids... well, the majority anyway.  And that's actually gotten worse since having my own. 

Kids are not a hobby.  They are not an after school activity.  The literally suck the life out of you and, strangely enough, it's your pleasure to allow them.  You see, once you become a parent, you are mutated into a whole new breed of human.  You are never the same. 

What gets me here in Brazil is that not wanting kids isn't really acceptable.  If you are not immediately and directly argued with about it, it's only because they have decided you'll grow into wanting them eventually.  Of course if you have a Vagina you want kids!  Why else have one?! Well, I can give you a couple of reasons but this is a semi-family friendly blog. 

So let me climb up on my soapbox and give you my speech on it. It'll take a minute, I have two boys hanging off of my ankles.

Don't have kids if you don't know if you want them. You know if you want kids! And guess what, they aren't going anywhere... ever.  They wake up at night to tell you they farted.  They puke every single time you forget to bring extra clothes.  They will never eat their vegetables when your Mother-in-law is over and watching.  They learn the curse words you mumble after an argument with your husband and then tell their teacher that when Mommy is mad she calls Daddy ________.   And at least once in their life, they will crap on your floor.

Of course there is the other side.  They will hug you with their whole selves, body, spirit, and humor.  There's a real beauty in being the only thing that comforts an upset or sick child in the middle of the night.  You will smile all 300 times a day your toddler says monkey because it's the first real word they have mastered.  It's amazing to see them grow and develop. It's like sea monkeys without the smelly tank.  And if you keep the right mindset, you'll laugh more than you ever have in your life. These little people are hilarious, even when they crap on your floor.

So what are you, pro or against babies in your life?  Why or why not?

*FYI: I hated the movie and wasn't all that impressed with the book.